Bottom Line: In patients who undergo PCI for either ACS or stable CAD, a regimen of ticagrelor plus ASA for 1 month, followed by ticagrelor monotherapy for 23 months, did not reduce the risk of death or Q-wave MI versus standard DAPT at 2 years.
Although major bleeding rates were no different in the overall population, in patients with PCI for ACS, ticagrelor monotherapy after the first month may reduce the risk of bleeding versus ticagrelor plus ASA for 12 months followed by ASA monotherapy. Conversely, in patients with stable CAD, there was no benefit to the ticagrelor-based regimen studied here.
Included: Scheduled for percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) or stable coronary artery disease (CAD)
Taking strong CYP3A4 inhibitor, oral anticoagulant;
Use of fibrinolytic <24h before PCI;
Planned for CABG within 12 months of randomization;
Hx of intracranial hemorrhage, known (current) major bleed, stroke/TIA in last 30 days.
Average patient at baseline:
Age 64.5 y
Presentation: ACS 47% (STEMI 13%), stable CAD 53%
Cardiac Hx: Prior myocardial infarction (MI) 23%, prior PCI 33%, prior CABG 6%
PMHx: Smoker 26%, HTN 74%, diabetes 25%, dyslipidemia 70%, eGFR<60 14%
Lesion treated: Left main 2%, LAD 41%, bypass graft 1%
Mean total stent length 24.8 mm, stent diameter 3.0 mm
Intervention & Control
Intervention (both ACS & stable CAD as indication for PCI)
First month: Dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT) with ticagrelor (load, then 90 mg BID) + low-dose ASA (75-100 mg/d); then
Next 23 months: Ticagrelor 90 mg BID monotherapy
Adherent (among those assessed): @ 1 month (95%), @ 1 year (81%), @ 2 years (78%)
ACS as indication for PCI: Ticagrelor (load then 90 BID) + low-dose ASA x12 months, then ASA x12 months
Stable CAD as indication for PCI: Clopidogrel (load then 75 mg/d) + low-dose ASA x12 months, then ASA x12 months
Adherent (among those assessed): @ 1 month (96%), @ 1 year (89%), @ 2 years (93%)
Co-interventions standardized to all patients:
PCI performed with biodegradable biolimus-eluting stents;
Bivalirudin was used as anticoagulant (not heparin/enoxaparin) during PCI.
Results (intervention vs control) @ 2 Years
Primary outcome (all-cause death or Q-wave MI): 3.8% vs 4.4% (hazard ratio (HR) 0.87, 95% confidence interval 0.75-1.01)
Death from any cause: 2.8% vs 3.2% (HR 0.95, 0.74-1.22)
New Q-wave MI: 1% vs 1.3% (HR 0.80, 0.60-1.07)
Subgroup by indication for PCI (no interaction; p=.93):
ACS: HR 0.86 (0.69-1.08)
Stable CAD: HR 0.87 (0.71-1.08)
Up to day 30: HR 0.81 (0.52-1.27)
Up to year 1 (including first 30 days): HR 0.79 (0.64-0.98)
After year 1: HR 0.97 (0.77-1.22)
Any MI: 3.1% in both groups (HR 1.00, 0.84-1.19)
Stroke: 1% in both groups (HR 0.98, 0.72-1.33)
Major bleeding (BARC grade 3 or 5): 2.0% vs 2.1% (HR 0.97, 0.78-1.20)
Subgroup by indication for PCI (interaction p=.007):
ACS: HR 0.73 (0.54-0.98) - where control is ticagrelor+ASA
Stable CAD: HR 1.32 (0.97-1.81) - where control is clopidogrel+ASA
Dyspnea: 13.8% vs 6.5% (p<.0001)
Generalizability (External Validity)
GLOBAL LEADERS tested a very complex intervention in a heterogeneous population:
First, this trial evaluates two populations with distinct standards of care: Patients with ACS, and patients with stable CAD. In patients undergoing PCI for ACS, the standard-of-care antiplatelet regimen is ticagrelor plus low-dose ASA for 12 months based on the PLATO trial, followed by lifelong ASA. Conversely, there is no evidence that ticagrelor is superior to clopidogrel in patients undergoing PCI for stable angina; no trial has been done to address this question.
Second, the interventions in GLOBAL LEADERS differ at 3 timepoints:
Day 0-30: Antiplatelet intensity in ACS subgroup (intervention = control), stable CAD subgroup (intervention > control).
Day 31-365: Antiplatelet intensity in ACS subgroup (intervention < control), stable CAD subgroup (intervention ? control).
Day 366-730: Antiplatelet intensity: intervention ? (> or =) control.
Therefore, the neutral results at 2 years may be because of a true lack of difference, or they may be due to a mixture of benefit in some timepoints and harms in other timepoints for these 2 subpopulations.
Third, adherence to ticagrelor in this trial was similarly poor to what was seen in PLATO and in clinical practice, driven by a higher rate of dyspnea and nuisance bleeding.
Risk of Bias: Moderate
Low risk of allocation bias:
Computer-generated randomization by otherwise-uninvolved 3rd party;
Blocked randomization with permuted blocks of 2 or 4;
Central randomization using locked web-based system.
High risk of performance and detection bias:
Open-label (patients, caretakers & clinicians caring for patient aware of which intervention they were randomized to);
No adjudication of outcomes.